As a reader of this blog, you know that bettering your lifestyle and optimizing your eating habits means stocking-up on fruits and veggies. Nutrient-dense, these foods are the best way to do good for the body. Bought free of packaging and organic, these ingredients are the more conscious choice as they don’t contribute plastic, styrofoam and cardboard waste as do most other foods. But have you ever noticed, after a fruit & veggie-packed cooking session, that you’ve produced more waste than food? Most of us fail to make the most of ALL of our fruits and veggies and in doing so, we produce unnecessary food waste not to mention, are missing out on some serious nutritional potential! It’s time to start using those neglected food parts, to get more out of your fruits and veggies, get more bang for your buck AND seriously cut down on your food waste! Ready?
Here are five fruit & vegetable parts you should be using:
1. Broccoli Stalks
You may have grown to love broccoli because the florets resembled tiny trees, but did you know that the broccoli stalk is just as nutritious? Crunchy and slightly sweet, you’ll wonder how you’ve gone so long without it. The exterior of the stalk is a little fibrous, so I recommend peeling it especially if you will be eating it raw. If you will be cooking the stalk, keep in mind that it will take a little longer than the florets.
- Cut into matchsticks and eaten raw as a snack
- Puréed into a soup
- In a quiche or frittata
- Shredded as a coleslaw
- In a stir-fry
2. Carrot, radish & beet leaves
Carrot tops, beet greens and radish leaves are leafy greens attached to the root vegetables that you should not throw away! Not only are they edible, but flavour-packed as well. Here’s what to do with them:
- Use carrot tops as you would fresh herbs
- Make a hot salad, the same way you would with kale or swiss chard
- Blend into a delicious pesto
- Add to your favorite soup
- Throw into a green juice
3. Squash seeds
The squash flesh provides fiber along with vitamins A & C and the seeds are the perfect snack, packing magnesium, antioxidants and healthy fats. So the next time you have a squash on hand, make sure to use it: flesh and seeds! Check out this recipe for sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds.
4. Strawberry tops
Strawberry season is upon us! Instead of chopping the berry stem and throwing it away, use the tops to make a fresh water infusion. Just as you would infuse your water with lemon slices, cucumbers or whole berries, do the same with the berry tops were going to toss. They provide a surprising strawberry flavour and are a fun way to stay hydrated in the summer months.
5. Vegetable scraps
Onions, carrots and celery are the key ingredients of a tasty broth, but here are other ideas to infuse even more flavour:
- Onion and shallot skin
- Carrots tops or peels
- Celery leaves
- Mushroom stems
- Green onion ends
- Fennel stalks
- Skin from: potatoes, parsnips, garlic, egg plant, squash (preferably organic when using the skin)
Pro tip: Keep a bag in your refrigerator or freezer, where you can accumulate various kitchen scraps. When you have enough accumulated, it’s time to make a broth!
Now it’s your turn: Do you know of another fruit and veggie use you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
By Stefanie Rosser RD